As an expat/OFW, we always look forward to our annual vacation to our home country. While I had a quick (work) trip back to the Philippines in September of 2019, my wife and daughter’s last vacation was back in 2016.
And with much anticipation, we started planning out our itinerary and things to do as early as the third quarter of 2019, prompting us to take advantage of a seat sale in November of 2019.
It was the Hong Kong protests which posted the first challenge to us. With a family vacation (me and my brother’s family) on the drawing board, a trip to Hong Kong might not be so ideal since we will be traveling with children.
While not as alarming as the first, news about airplane bombings and the rerouting of flights to conflicting nations in the Middle East have also caused concerns about the safety of travelling back to the Philippines. That happened in early 2020 but later on, was dismissed and no longer considered a threat.
But the latest one silenced all protests and war issues around the world, with the outbreak of a virus, now popularly called CORONA VIRUS. It has already affected more than 80,000 people in more than 60 countries with almost 3,000 deaths worldwide (majority of which are from China where the virus has reportedly originated).
PREVIOUS FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS
With the recent NOVEL CORONA VIRUS scare that is pausing a big threat to people’s travel and mobility, many have decided to cancel their flights to affected areas even losing money on airfares and other expenses including visa fees and advance hotel reservations. While others even joke about flying to touristy places as this is the best time to have photos without any photo bombers, many are much more concerned about getting sick or being asked to have a mandatory self-quarantine which could affect their work.
Flight cancellations were not new to us anymore. My first instance was when I booked our first ever travel to HK with my mother and my son. But because my mom wasn’t able to process her passport because of documentary issues in the province, then we have to push through with the trip without her. Though it was a package tour, we were not able to refund her part (and I think I eventually gave up upon learning about the tedious refund process which includes personally appearing to the airline office).
The second one was when I booked another surprise trip for my elders, my mom and grandma, to Palawan. But my mom was later on diagnosed with cancer and having a weak immune system might cause her to catch infections during the trip. And so the trip didn’t pursue either since the other elder felt that we won’t be enjoying the trip with that situation.
Then our latest was this trip to OSAKA in April 2020, the second phase of our Japan trip in April 2016. While we haven’t canceled the booking yet, we have already stopped planning for our itinerary (to lessen the emotional pain). We are closely monitoring some Facebook pages of fellow Japan Travelers but our decision will always be safety over enjoyment. The last straw that hit us to the core was when the government of Japan finally ordered the suspension of classes until April and the recent closure of Universal Studios Japan.
DELAYS ARE NOT DENIAL
While a lot of things can still happen until April, at least we have already accepted the fact that we “might” not only lose money on early bookings – one of the risks of buying on seat sale period, but also not having a timely and long-anticipated opportunity to celebrate and bond as a family (it’s Kuya Johann’s graduation from K-12). But, as they say, JAPAN IS JUST THERE and we can always visit anytime that the situation goes back to normal. We can also celebrate any occasion in another way, so it should still be ok in the end.
It’s is not only thinking about our own safety but also of the people whom we will be mingling with upon our return from vacation. Imagine the stigma of “thinking” that we might have a virus and the trouble of getting into a “self-quarantine process” for at least 2-weeks?
We are thinking of considering local tours or simply enjoying our vacation with the family. This current situation has opened opportunities for travel to other destinations. Some local airlines took this as an opportunity to offer special rates, especially for domestic travel. Although the same precaution should be observed especially when attending big events or festivals in the countryside. Also, consider getting travel insurance and flu vaccines for your protection (esp for the kids).
We will still be in a wait-in-see situation until we get to Manila. We might even get a favorable GO SIGNAL for travel to Japan soon, but until then, we might just be confined to staying home and we will keep you posted on exciting features, for sure.
In the meantime, in case any of you might be planning to apply for a refund on your pre-booked tickets on local airlines in the Philippines, you might want to check out this blog post from one of my favorite content creators –THE POOR TRAVELER. They have outlined a very comprehensive guideline on how to go about your refund on terminal fees for unused tickets.
The Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation and Primary Health Care Corporation has created a website to provide residents of Qatar with a trusted source of information related to the Coronavirus disease 2019 from China. Officially named ‘(COVID-19)’, it is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
The Ministry of Public Health released several advisories on how we can protect ourselves, when traveling, or even on our day-to-day activities.
The cover photo is from https://www.theinvisibletourist.com/dos-and-donts-in-japan-tourist-guide-etiquette/